The recent "Paid Advertisement" by Mr. Joe Newton entitled "Grand Jury to investigate Green's land deal?" is a perfect example of why truth in advertising laws are a joke. The advertisement is filled with misstatements and outright fabrications by its author, Joe Newton, a contributor to Chairman Charles Bannister.
The reader might wonder what axe Mr. Newton has to grind with me. The fact is that Mr. Newton applied for a position as a lobbyist with Gwinnett County in 2006. At that time, Chairman Bannister supported the hiring of Mr. Newton, who had given a $2,000 contribution to Mr. Bannister. However, myself and the other commissioners did not like Mr. Newton's tactics and decided to hire a more-qualified firm, and based on these campaign tactics, it appears our concerns were justified.
The ad centers around the purchase of a piece of property in the Beaver Ruin Road/Satellite Boulevard area of the county - an area in desperate need of green space and help in revitalizing itself.
Please allow me to set the record straight with a few facts:
· There is no grand jury investigation of the Beaver Ruin Road land purchase.
· Randy Travis with Fox 5 News reviewed the purchase and found no irregularities.
· Gwinnett County requested an independent appraisal. The appraisal was performed by R. Foster, Inc. and placed the value at $4,650,000.
· Gwinnett County also conducted an independent engineering study to verify that the site could be developed as contended.
· The purchase price for the land was the appraised price, no more.
· Gwinnett County did conduct an Environmental Phase I study as required, and which the purchase was subject to a satisfactory finding. The study was conducted by Southeastern Environmental Services in January 2007.
· Not only did Gwinnett County obtain 53 acres at appraised value, but the owner agreed to donate an additional 23 acres at no additional cost to the county.
Mr. Newton spent much time at the county offices with the files for this acquisition. It is interesting that he somehow overlooked the referenced documents. He also spent $1,075 on drawings for the site and $700 for an estimator, plus more than $5,000 for the ads in this paper. All told, he has spent almost $9,000 in an attempt to smear my name. A bit unusual, most of us might contend.
In an accompanying "Paid Advertisement," Mr. Newton contends that both I and Sheriff Butch Conway have broken numerous laws because county employees supported my campaign - while not on duty. There is no violation of any policy or law for a county employee to support a candidate while they are not on taxpayer time. As these employees assisted me on a Sunday evening, they were obviously not on taxpayer time as Mr. Newton has been told time and time again. It is interesting that these complaints were filed by a mystery organization from Rome just days before the election.
The beauty of the American electoral process is that it is free and open. The beauty of our First Amendment is that it allows for free speech in that electoral process. However, when free speech becomes lies and manipulations of the public trust, that freedom has been abused and must be stopped.
I appreciate the Daily Post allowing me the opportunity to "set the record straight." Please refer to my Web site, www.greenforgwinnett.com for additional supporting information.